Natalie Lind Writes It All Down For Posterity #13

By Anna Chastain

I lose my voice around noon, and I sit at lunch listening to Toby and Warren have an argument while Kesia scrapes at a grapefruit with her spoon. Bernadette and Jeff are caught in a hold-up in the pasta line but arrive at the table as Warren says: “I don’t understand why suddenly Toby has this thing for Frank O’Hara.” And Toby says, “I’m trying to read my homework and that means you need to shut up.”

Then Warren starts reading an O’Hara poem out loud and stops in the middle and says, “Can anyone else sort of feel the pollution?” And Toby takes the book away from him.

Jeff says, “I need to borrow someone’s gloves.”

Kesia hands him hers, which are neon pink with crocodiles and he looks at them for a minute and a half before he remembers to say “Thank you.”

Jean-Baptiste comes over to ask Bernadette about the paper he’s writing for their Theory of Improvisational Dance class. He says he’s doing his on Martha Graham and wants to know if Martha Graham ever put herself in indecent photographs. He says, “I’ve got this indecency premise but it’s taking me forever and an ass to write.”

Bernadette says, “That isn’t really a phrase people use.” Then she says: “And I thought we were analyzing technique, not whatever that is you think you’re doing.”

“Yeah but I don’t really get the whole analyzing technique approach. It’s eight pages: so something’s got to stop me dying of boredom, right?” He shifts his weight onto his other leg, which generally means he’ll keep talking, and Bernadette shows him her surprised eyebrows with their half-knit of disapproval.

I drink more tea.

Jean-Baptiste drags a chair to the end of the table, elbows the trays belonging to Bernadette and Jeff slightly to the side and sets down his soft-serve. Jean-Baptiste says, “How do you guys calculate your protein intake?”

Kesia’s still working on her grapefruit, and Jeff is trying to plot out song lyrics. Bernadette says, “I don’t so much calculate that.”

“Then good thing you aren’t a vegetarian huh?” He grins. Then he looks at me: “If you calculated things like that you wouldn’t have the voice thing; see, I don’t really get sick.”

I offer to cough on him but it doesn’t carry that far and Kesia’s the only one who hears me and she says, “Do it,” but I sit tight. I notice that tea with honey kind of gives me nausea, but when I mention this to Kesia she thinks I might not want to blame it on the tea. She asks me didn’t I have a fever midway through yesterday evening, and so I drink more tea and figure I’ll hit some sort of plateau as far as the cough.

“You should maybe go to Winton,” Kesia says.

I just grip the mug and nod.

Toby thinks he’s found something really stunning by Carl Sandburg, so he starts reading that in his read-out-loud voice. Warren leaves the table in search of steamed vegetables. I hear Jean-Baptiste say to Bernadette, “Word around the dance department is you’re getting pretty loose.” He looks at Jeff and shrugs.

Bernadette tries to prod Jean-Baptiste in the arm with her fork but she’s too slow and he’s around the other side of the table sitting next to Kesia asking what kind of relationship she has with pragmatism.